Two Libyans identified as new suspects in Lockerbie bombing

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Scottish prosecutors have identified two Libyan nationals as suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The prosecutors are looking to U.S. and Scottish investigators to interview the suspects in Tripoli, but that is seen as unlikely in an unstable Libya.

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board. /AFP/Getty Images
Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board. /AFP/Getty Images

The two new suspects, who were not named, are alleged to have carried out the bombing along with Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the worst terror attack in British history.

The terror attack on New York-bound Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988 killed all 259 people on board and 11 more on the ground. The victims included 189 Americans, many of them college students returning home for Christmas break.

Scotland’s Crown Office said Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch agreed there is “a proper basis in law in Scotland and the United States to entitle Scottish and U.S. investigators to treat two Libyans as suspects.”

In 1999, after years of crippling UN sanctions, Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi handed over to Scottish authorities al-Megrahi and a second suspect — who was later acquitted.

During the George W. Bush administration in 2003, Gadhafi finally took responsibility (but did not admit guilt) for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation of about $2.7 billion to the victims’ families. Gadhafi also agreed to dismantle all of Libya’s weapons of mass destruction and joined the U.S.-led fight against terrorism.

The investigation into the Lockerbie bombing stalled in 2011 after Gadhafi was overthrown and killed under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Obama administration.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Dornstein, whose brother died in the attack, identified another Libyan, Abu Agila Mas’ud, as the possible bomb-maker. He hasn’t been named by U.S. or Scottish officials as a suspect.

“I feel like I pushed it as far as I could as a filmmaker and now it’s up to governments to do the actual administration of justice,” Dornstein said. “I’d be really gratified to know that this project could potentially lead to the first new charges in the case in some 25 years.”

Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, was convicted in 2001 of planting the bomb on Flight 103 and received a 27-year prison sentence, though many close to the case have questioned the reliability of the evidence used to convict him.

Al-Megrahi’s conviction was largely based on the testimony of a shopkeeper in Malta who identified him as having bought a shirt, pieces of which were wrapped around a timing device discovered in the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103.

Al-Megrahi, who had maintained he was not involved in the attack, was freed from a Scottish jail in 2009 on compassionate grounds, because he had cancer, to the outrage of many victims’ families. He died in Libya in 2012.

Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed in the bombing, believes al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted “so to try to bolt two more names on top of that is a very difficult situation.”

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